Ryanair changes refund policy to allow unused vouchers to be exchanged for cash

Customers offered vouchers for cancelled flights told they can get money back after a year

Ryanair has changed course in the ongoing controversy over refunds for cancelled flights, telling customers they will exchange vouchers issued now for cash if they are not used within 12 months.

Last Monday it emerged the airline had joined a significant number of other airlines in primarily offering vouchers for flights cancelled due to coronavirus.

The move infuriated many customers who had previously been told their refunds for cancelled flights were being processed.

They were told they could wait for refunds but were not given any indication when they would be processed other than a reference to when the Covid-19 crisis passed. In the normal course of events, refunds must be processed within seven days.

The latest email starts by telling customers that they had previously received an email “with a voucher code to the value of your original booking.” It repeats that the voucher is valid for 12 months “and can be used for your future travel plans”.

It adds that if impacted passengers “do not use the voucher before the expiry date [they] will receive a full cash refund” and adds that if those affected use part of the voucher they will “receive the option of a voucher for the balance or a cash refund after the expire date.”

The email then contains a link to where customers can claim the voucher.

Regulations

The fresh move comes after a turbulent week for the airlines which saw customers who thought they were getting refunds for cancelled flights offered vouchers instead.

For weeks the airline had been out of step with most other airlines in Europe in promising no-quibble cash refunds, but last week's apparent U-turn came as several countries across the EU moved to change the rules to allow airlines offer credit notes instead of full refunds. Minister for Transport Shane Ross is considering a similar step in Ireland.

Ryanair – and other airlines including Aer Lingus – have insisted they are fully compliant with EU regulations governing refunds.

Ryanair has said that as a result of the grounding of more than 90 per cent of its fleet in recent weeks it was “having to process 10,000 times the usual volume [of refund requests] and have fewer staff available due to social-distancing measures”.

Earlier this week the company's outgoing marketing office Kenny Jacobs said that people who insist on getting cash refunds instead of vouchers would have to wait in the region of three months before they were processed.